By Mavis Ishanqueen
For centuries black and African women have stood by their men, fought with them, fought for them and made sacrifices for them. Yet, none of this has been enough to establish equality among them. Instead the subjugation and abuse of women has become more radical and more brutal. As of today, women of colour are still the most oppressed and abused group of women, all over the world. For this reason, I cannot fully express my support for the BLM without the fear of a future betrayal arising in me.
As an African woman, I have witnessed and experienced both racism and misogyny firsthand, and neither of them is more tolerable than the other. Neither of them is less urgent than the other. Neither of them is more lenient than the other. I am afraid of being hurt for being a woman, as much as I am afraid of being hurt because I am a person of colour. My life is plagued by a double threat, and both of them are systematic and deadly.
On an ordinary day, African American men do not have love for their women, even though these women love them as their fathers, sons, brothers, partners and friends. African American women, they say, are too loud, too strong, and too confrontational. Their hair is too coarsed and their skin is too dark. Their bodies are too thick and their ways are too masculine. But right now, since the protests started on May 21, 2020, none of these undesirable traits have mattered anymore.
As a matter of fact, these undesirable traits have become admirable.
They love that the women are loud: what’s a protest without powerful voices?
They love that the women are strong: when they are pushed, shoved and beaten, they can stand up and carry on marching again.
They love that the women are confrontational: they need answers to their question: “Why are you killing us?”
They love that the women wear wigs to cover their natural coarse hair: you can snatch the wig, but you can’t snatch the head.
They love that the women are dark: the rich melanin will protect them during the long hours that they’ll have to spend under the sun chanting for justice and equality.
They love that their bodies are thick: it won’t be easy to knock them down.
They love that their ways are masculine: you need to be aggressive to withstand the stubbornness of a system that has decided that you are not human enough.
Everything that they hate about these women is now the very weapons that they are using to fight against racism. Does this mean that the black man only values the black woman when she allows herself to be used? Are we just tools to be used and discarded after everything is said and done?
When the protester’s requests have been met at a level that is considered satisfactory, and men and women go back to their homes to celebrate their victory, what will be the fate of the black woman? Will the black man still remember how the black woman’s voice, strength, bravery, readiness, toughness, solidity, and fierceness were powerful contributions in the protests that saw statues of racists being taken down, roads painted with “black lives matter”, the confederate flag trashed, and the entire country unarguably afraid of the awakening of the oppressed black population?
After the storms dies down, what next?